The Missouri Valley Conference is in the early stages of considering Dallas Baptist as a baseball-only member, a move that could help the conference schedule and power rating.
"The coaches are unanimously in favor of it," said Joe Mitch, MVC associate commissioner. "Everyone says they're ready for this level."
Dallas Baptist is NCAA Division I in baseball only. In other sports it is NCAA Division II. Since joining Division I in baseball in 2004, it built a good reputation, highlighted by an at-large bid to an NCAA regional in 2008. The Patriots went 38-17 last season, their 31st consecutive winning season.
"We've got a huge interest," Patriots coach Daniel Heefner said. "We'd love to be in it."
Mitch said MVC athletic directors and faculty representatives will vote on the issue in May. The school presidents would have the final say in June. The earliest Dallas Baptist could play a Valley schedule is 2012.
Before the decision, Valley officials will take a closer look at the baseball program and its funding, scholarships, facilities and academics.
Mitch said no other school is being considered as an addition.
Adding Dallas Baptist as an affiliate could help the Valley in its battle with the power conferences for RPI status. Its 2010 schedule features games against Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Washington State, TCU and Baylor. It plays a three-game series at Wichita State in May and the Shockers will play in a tournament in Dallas in 2011.
The Patriots finished 2009 with a ranking of No. 40 in the NCAA's RPI. Missouri State ranked highest among MVC schools at No. 67. In 2008, it finished No. 39, behind one MVC member — No. 13 Wichita State. In 2007, the Patriots ranked No. 112, behind four MVC members.
"With the region that we're in, we're able to schedule good midweek games," Heefner said.
An additional team would solve problems created when Northern Iowa dropped baseball in 2009. An additional school would allow the MVC to return to a 24-game schedule and eliminate the need for MVC schools to find a non-conference opponent for a weekend series in the late spring.
Heefner played two seasons at Northern Iowa. He served as an assistant coach at UNI and Creighton. Associate head coach Travis Wyckoff is a former WSU pitcher and assistant coach at Creighton.
"We feel like it would be a great fit," Heefner said.